Forty-One

This age wears well
Like the finest of wines
In a dry season
Subtle, yet sweet
Rich and delicate
Despite its history
And my bones, they ache
They take time to warm
To adjust to themselves
After all this time
These lines on my face
Testament to a dreaming
That fades in eventuality
A new beginning for me
But the clock doesn’t lie
Its hands steadily advancing
The grinding of its gears
Giving me pause
Letting me in on a secret
That it takes time to get
All this dust and consequence
Shading me in trace elements
Leaving this constant soul
With more questions than a few
Even after all this time
Their answers transparent
As summer turns to fall
While the leaves tremble and fall
Lost to a casual eye
That sees itself looking
Without knowing what it sees

This age wears well
Like an artificial mirth
Mixed up in a stage show
Where I am the lead actor
Playing a myriad of roles
Lost in this appreciation
For the wisdom of years
Without feeling ancient
For the cast of characters
Who have darkened my door
Searching for kindred souls
In the middle of this life
For meaning from this chaos
That shakes me like a rag
And leaves me satisfied
With the aching of my bones
The decades that keep fading
These faces that disappear
Replaced by ones that matter
An opportunity to exhale
When I stop holding my breath
When the dreams turn to dust
To these ashes in my mouth
Set ablaze by experience
Renewed in the taming of time
In the grinding of these gears
So I’ll know I’m still alive
After a passing youth
That was only the beginning.

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Pretense

The trick is to make it look natural
To forgive myself all this pain
And start all over again
But that’s easier said than amended
This frantic convalescence of the mind
Hiding in cobweb and shadows
Trying its best to practice avoidance
Like fear and consequence
Wrapped up in the trappings of pride
So I can tell that I’m alive
Still breathing in half-hearted rhythm
Waiting until I can stop pretending
Until everyone else looks away
From this blithely even mannequin
And I can give up the cast iron ghost
Replacing him with these blueprints
This idea of who I want to be
Still gestating, dying to break free
From all this practiced artifice
Masquerading at the well-adjusted me
That I’ve always hoped I could be.

The trick is to make it look natural
To deftly wax while others merely wane
And start all over again
But no one explains how to shift
When you’re out of alignment.

Life Imitates Life

The apple was plainly tart
Its taste compelling
But inadequate for love
Defiant in her will
She backs away from him
Seeking hand snatched away
Distorted by consequence
Bereft of self-esteem
Yet trying to understand
How life imitates life
Patient in its folly
Ready to start over again
As if nothing ever happened
Because somehow it didn’t
At least in her scattered mind
He left in the dead of night
Taking her memories along
Clouding everything good
With smokeless dissonance
She can’t begin again
Because to her it never ended
The fruit stale in her mouth
When it used to be so vibrant
It slips from her shaking hands
This poison draining free
Sluiced away by her tears
Long delayed, yet adequate
Enough to dissolve expectation
Like an experiment gone wrong
And it’s time to start again
With a new set of paints.

A Lingering

This anticipation wrecks me
Drives a wedge between thought
And the expectation of action
Such a feather thin complication
That shapes all of eternity
Or just these restless hours
Fashioning a way to exhale
When all I can do is gasp
When everything is shaded gray
Like the dreams of yesterday
But I could never stay in that place
Could never reconcile this pain
With the dissolution of hope
Never construct a mechanism to cope
Even though they say I’m strong
These hands curled into fists
In pockets so large to be obscure
Carved from potential melancholy
Chipped shavings cut deeply
Living in this preordained limbo
A purgatory of the divine soul
Waiting for what may never come
Shackled to the possibilities
Hoping for this perfect forever
But expecting everything else
Because this is the way of things
These chances few and far apart
This hope fractured by time
And a solid wall of consequence
That can’t help but deny faith
Even when the stars align
So I sit and stare at the wall
Hoping for an answer.

Pulse

This heart is fragile
A tender anomaly
Meant to wither away
For lack of empathy
A feeble representation
Of love’s weaknesses
A knock-kneed preamble
To fair-weather feelings
Couched in certain terms
Meant to convey pain
But showing a patchwork
Mismatched architecture
That belies this passion
Compartmentalized
Shut behind pure artifice
And a complex denial
Meant to complicate
Yet all this conjecture
Is merely love adjacent
The skip of this heartbeat
Catching up with itself
Waiting for a new rhythm
A pulling of this thread
A chance to bleed clean
And start all over again.

Delicate

If I gave you this excuse
These reasons to dismiss me
As nothing more than random
So much tinkling brass
Sounding into an abyss
So large that it echoes
Reverberating like glass
Struck by a tuning fork
Would you even listen?

And I would never blame you
If you didn’t accept this kiss
If you gave into consequences
That shattered this reflection
These pieces of a broken life
Before it had even begun
With so many whispered hopes
Left to wither on the vine
Of this disenfranchised heart

If I gave you these promises
This invitation to abuse me
Because I have no self-esteem
Rendered numb by a profusion of lies
All believable until they weren’t
All exhaled by perfect lips
That I wish I had never kissed
So many destroyed perceptions
Would you be vulnerable with me?

Would you take me as I am
This hollow man I’ve become
And breathe into me new life
The kind without an expiration
The one I don’t have to question
For fear it will disappear
Will you stitch me back together
With the pieces left behind
And hope the gaps don’t show?

If I gave you this one chance
Would you understand my limits
Would you give me space to exhale
When I need to expel this tepid air
Would you wrap yourself around me
Without smothering
Could you stop pretending
That I’m okay
When I’m so obviously not?